welcome to "newsline." it's wednesday, february 27th, i'm catherine kobayashi in tokyo. egyptian authorities have suspended all hot air balloon flights in luxor following a deadly accident in the ancient city. a balloon carrying 21 people crashed into a field. 19 people died. a witness told nhk a fire broke out and burned half of the
balloon's basket. he says he saw the pilot and a passenger jump out. he says the balloon rose higher as the flames spread. then it crashed into a sugar cane field. civil aviation minister wai al madawi visited the site of the accident. he says a committee from the ministry will investigate. luxor provincial officials say four japanese are among the dead. a japanese travel agency confirmed they're two married couples from tokyo. the casualties also include touris from britain and hong kong. >> translator: the basket of the doomed balloon was engulfed in flames within seconds. >> luxor is located about 500 kilometers south of cairo. it's one of egypt's most popular sightseeing areas. the city has ancient ruins such as the valley of the kings and the karnak temple along the nile river. the head of the travel agency in cairo points out that severe competition among balon
operators for a diminishi nuer o touristsay he contributed to the incident. >> translator: when a similar accident happened three or four years ago, the egyptian government stopped balloon operations for six months to conduct safety checks. but after that the tourism ministry was no longer able to maintain safety controls. >> a travel coordinator who liaises between the egyptian government and hot air balloon firms told nhk the operator o the balon h tworevis accints in the past two years. the leader of italy's center-left coalition says he'll ask the country's president to help coordinate talks to form a new coalition government. pier luigi bersani spoke after the results of a parliamentary election produced no clear winner. bersani's democratic party and its partners won a majority in the lower house. but no party secured a majority
in the senate, setting the stage for a political stalemate. bersani's calling for continued efforts to reduce italy's debt. hicoalition needs team up with other groups because a new government must be approved by both chambers of parliament. he said he'll only negotiate under the mediation of president giorgio napolitano, who has the authority to appoint the prime minister. a center-right coalition led by former prime minister silvio berlusconi emerged from the election as the second largest block. berlusconi has hinted at the possibility of a grand coalition. the newly launched five star movement led by comedian beppe grillo is the third largest force. he stresses his bloc will decide its positions on a policy by policy basis. negotiations between the three groups are expected to be difficult because they have all staked out different stances on key issues. analysts say the outcome could have an impact on italy's debt-reducing reforms and the stability of the eurozone.
americans too are concerned about stability of their own economy. some central bankers have hinted that it's stable enough to end monetary easing sooner than planned. but the head of the bank is not yet convinced. ai uchida joins us now from the business desk. so ai, tell us, what's ben bernanke looking for? >> well, bernanke is looking specifically at the jobs market. he wants more americans to hold more jobs before he exits all monetary policy. and he still feels the unemployment rate is too high at the moment. so the head of the u.s. federal reserve has defended the central bank's monetary stimulus package. this has eased concerns fed officials would cut short their asset-buying program. chairman ben bernanke on tuesday presented his semi-annual report to the senate. he acknowledged bold monetary easing could cause inflationut stressedhe mit of the licy. >> we do not see potential cost to the increased risk taking in some financial markets as outweighing the benefits of promoting a strong economic recovery and more rapid job
creation. >> bernanke also warned imminent spending cuts could put the brakes on recovery if they take effect on march 1st. he urged republicans and democrats to set aside their differences to find a solution. now, bernanke also said he understood japanese prime minister shinzo abe's push for heaid abe i trying to boost the economy and is not manipulating exchange rates to devalue the yen. u.s. president barack obama wants republicans to compromise before budget cuts take effect on friday. >> there are too many republicans in congress right now who refuse to compromise even an inch. there's no reason why we can't come together and find a sensible way to reduce the deficit over the long term. >> obama on tuesday spoke at a shipyard in virginia. workers there build ships for the u.s. navy.
he said hundreds of thousands of jobs could be lost in virginia alone. the mandated cuts in defense and other areas were postponed when congress discussed a so-called fiscal cliff in december. congress has not come up with any measures to deal with deficits. and unless concessions are made, americans will have to bear the brunt of $85 billion in budget cuts. let's take a look at the markets now. first getting a check of ocks. tokyo stock prices are trading lower today. market watchers say investors remain concerned about italy's fiscal restructuring. meanwhile, sentiment is somewhat supported by tuesday's u.s. stock market gains as housing data exceeded market expectations. the nikkei, though, at the moment down over .8% at 11,302. that is down .8% from tuesday's close. now let's take a look at the currency markets, see what's happening there. now, the dollar is trading just
slightly higher against the yen. sources say market players a buying the dollar due to an optimistic view on the u.s. economic outlook, and that's after reassuring comments from u.s. fed chief bernanke as well as positive housing data. now, the dollar/yen is trading at 91.93-95. meanwhile, the euro/general trading hands at 120.04-09. we'll keep track of those moves for you. now, in other markets in the asia pacific, south korea's kospi is trading just slightly higher, just barely above that 2,000 mark at 2,001. let's see what's going on in australia. the benchmark index is higher by .6% at 5,033. looks like tokyo's one of the few down so far this morning. well, women in saudi arabia are taking a firsthand look at japan's kawaii youth fashion and culture. the japan external trade organization has opened a trade fair featuring kawaii, or cute
items at a department store in the capital riyadh. 17 makers of clothing, cosmetics, and other products are taking part. members of the saudi royal family attended monday's opening ceremony. >> fashion is a very good way of expressing the differences and the similarities in the cultures as well. so we're -- we are very happy to be hosting this and to start this relationship. >> saudi arabia strictly interprets islam and is said to be the most conservative muslim country. woman must carry themselves with head scarves and long coats when they go out. but visitors to the fair showed a keen interest in japanese fashion. >> we all love japanese fashion. >> everything about japan, we have background about it and we love it. >> about 100 women tried various items on the first day. a jetro official says japanese
businesses still don't know much about the saudi arabian market but since saudi women have strong purchasing power he hopes japanese companies will explore the business opportunities in the middle eastern country. i will have more headlines for you next hour. the nikkei down .9 let'ta a looat regional markets. ♪ ♪ ♪ the u.s. senate has confirmed chuck hagel as secretary of defense. a bloc of republicans had
opposed nomination of their former colleague, but they gave in in the end. president barack obama nominated hagel last month. republicans criticized statements hagel had made in the past about iran and israel. and they questioned his qualifications for the post. this time some of them gave their approval. they agreed drawing out the process would not help national security. hagel is expected to get down to work later in the day. he'll have to turn his attention to the pentagon budget and how to manage billions of dollars' worth of cuts. a rocket fired from gaza has exploded in southern israel. it's the first attack since november, when the israeli military agreed to a cease-fire with the islamic fundamentalist group hamas. police in israel say no one was hurt. they suspect the palestinian militant group other than hamas may be responsible. the israeli military did not retaliate. tensions are rising in gaza and the west bank. the death of a palestinian inmate over the weekend sent
palestinians into the streets in protest. the inmate died in an israeli prison. he was allegedly tortured. north korean leader kim jong un has conducted a military inspection to check if troops are ready for battle. the country's state-run media reported on tuesday that kim monitored an artillery exercise. he reportedly said he was convinced officers are ready for his orders on maximum alert. kim is accompaniedyenior military officials believed to have directed the 2010 shelling of a south korean island. that's the south korean island of yeonpyeong. four people were killed in the attack. kim referred to the incident, praising the artillery unit for attacking their so-called enemies on the island. analysts say kim is applying pressure on new south korean president park geun-hye to improve bilateral ties. president park is facing other challenges at home. she has appointed her prime minister, but she may face a
struggle appointing her other key minists. president park appointed chung hong won as prime minister on tuesday with parliamentary approval. her first choice turned down the post last month amid controversy over his properties. ministers in south korea remain in power after presidential elections. park has to get parliamentary approval to appoint her replacements. park's candidates for other posts such as defense will face strict hearings. they're under scrutiny over possible scandals regarding their assets and backgrounds. the president's plan to reorganize government agencies has not been approved by parliament. park will have to wait a little longer to establish her own administration. economic development in southeast asia means stronger relations across borders. but it also means an increase in human trafficking.
now countries are cooperating to reverse the trend. bangkok has hosted an anti-han traffickinconfence sponsored by thailand and japan. officials attending the event pledged to work together to combat the issue, which encompasses forced labor and sexual exploitation. the thai government and the japan international cooperation agency sponsored the event, held on tuesday. government officials from thailand, japan, vietnam, myanmar, cambodia, and laos took part. the delegation from myanmar says a growing number of women are being sent to china through fake marriages. vietnamese officials report brokers for prostitution and forced lorse more sophisticated cunning tricks that make the true situation difficult to assess. the representatives recognize the need to crack down on trafficking rings and help victims return to their countries. they also acknowledge the importance of closer international cooperation.
>> translator: more people are crossing borders in the region. so i believe it is very important for to us cooperate, to build a legal framework to prevent human trafficking. >> asean plans to form an economic community by 2015 which is sure to increase cross-border economic trade. member countries hope to have human trafficking countermeasures in place as soon as possible. myanmar is home to more than 130 ethnic groups. one japanese photographer has dedicated himself to documenting minority groups in the country. now he's sharing his photo collection with the public. nhk world's toshiyuki terazawa >> reporter: the pplesn the title of ts photo book refers to the diverse ethnic groups in myanmar. it portrays people's daily lives
and the various scenery of the country. yuzo uda is a photojournalist who has been taking pictures in myanmar for two decades. he started at the time when it was difficult for foreign journalists to even enter the country. on this day he is headed to the yangon delta, where many members of the karen ethnic group live. uda wants to capture their customs and culture such as nature. the region is frequently hit by cyclones and floods, and the karen people here see the river as a god. he hopes many people will see the photos and discover the diversity of myanmar. >> translator: i want people to see these mountains, seas, and
different groups of people. i'm not pursing a major goal like ethnic peace. rather, i want to offer a clue to how everyone can live together. >> reporter: this company publishes a weekly news magazine in yangon. myanmar's democratization movement has spread to news media. last year the government abolished censorship of all publications. uda thought the time was right to approach the publisher with the photos he's taken over the years. the company recognized his passion and agreed to publish his collection. it's quite rare for a foreigner to publish a book in myanmar. >> i was very surprised. like a foreigner, a japanese photojournalist, he took all the
very rare pictures. heakin all t picres every corner of our country. this can be the documented photo book for myanmar. >> the first page of the book is a portrait of this girl. it's the only shot with no caption. the girl is a rohingya muslim. myanmar's government sees them as an islamic minority who come into the country from bangladesh and other neighboring countries without permission. the government does not recognize rohingya muslims as its nationals. uda decided not to write a description of this photo, fearing that the government might ban the book. uda visits a mosque in yangon with his new book. he wants to know what the muslims here think of the rohingya people, who share the
same faith. >> do you know any rohingyas here in myanmar? >> maybe limited- i can't say about that. >> i see. >> okay. yeah. >> still sensitive. >> translator: i'd be glad if my book helps people learn. there are so many different ethnic groups in the country. i hope they will see it's possible for different groups to live together. >> reporter: uda says he plans to continue taking photographs of people in all corners of the country. toshiyuki terazawa, nhk world, yangon. it's been said that a writer needs three things -- experience, observation, and imagination. some authors with all of those
traits are making their mark on japanese literature. they are in their 50s, 60s, and 70s and they are scooping up prizes. >> reporter: natsuko kuroda is the latest winner of the akutagawa prize, japan's most prestigious literary award. she is 75. 61-year-old bin hamuro walked off with last year's naoki prize, a high-profile tribute for popular writing. older scribes are on a roll. these titles all won prizes in recent years. the youngest author is in his late 50s. and major publishers are taking notice. staff at this one are actively scouting for mature talent. they organized a competition for mystery stories. only writers over 60 could apply. more than 200 people sent in
manuscripts. editors say they were surprised by the high standard. and they noticed something different in the stories. >> translator: their lifelong experiences are projected in the work, creating aa new kind of sensibility, a little different from popular writers today. >> reporter: "short skirt girl" claimed top prize. it a crime story. murd and intrigue revolving around a mysriouwoman. the writer drew on real life scandal and personal experience. >> translator: i'm not afraid of a lawsuit. i'll post an article of correction and pay a settlement. >> 62-year-old kato is the author. he runs a shop north of tokyo. it sells traditional fashion accessories. he landed his first job at a recording company soon after graduating from university. but music was not his main
passion. kato wanted to be a cartoonist. he drew in his spare time, crafting stories with a distinctive style and tempo. he started writing novels seriously at the age of 53. >> translator: there's no doubt that living 60 years gives you many experiences. finally, i'm in a place where i mystery.e anything, including a >> translator: older writers are finding their muse, and book retailers are pleased. declining readership has hit them hard. >> translator: there are a lot of senior citizens who are writing novels, putting them out into the world and getting results. this trend is inspiring older readers. >> some younger readers are also impressed at the new wave in japanese literature.
>> translator: i learn a lot by ading books written by someone who grew up in a different era with a totally different outlook. >> reporter: kato is working on his second novel. the first one established his name. the challenge now is to write a bestseller. his editor is offering advice on ways to keep readers engaged. he urges kato to pour on the suspense. he wants cliffhangers at every turn. kato reaches for his notebooks. he started sketching and jotting down thoughts as a schoolboy. they help him come up with ideas. and of course, there's always real life. in that area kato says he has plenty more material to draw on. >> translator: i have so many stories i want to tell. i want to do my best while i have the strength and time to do it.
>> reporter: so many stories, so little time. senior citizens are writing up a storm. standing behind th, a struggling industry is hoping to turn the page on troubled times. time now to get a check on the weather. people in central parts of the u.s. are dealing with a powerful winter storm. we get the details on that and more from meteorologist sayaka mori. >> hi there. a major winter storm has caused heavy snow showers and blizzard conditions for the central parts of the u.s. you can see the clouds indicating a strong system. i want to show you this video. a werf winter storm in the midwest left at least three people dead. heavy snow, ice, and winds threatened the region. people in oklahoma, texas, and parts of kansas were still digging snow from the storm last week, but heavy snow blanketed the zone again because of the
weight of the snow. several roofs collapsed. blizzard conditions closed highways and forced about 450 flight cancellations. the storm ripped through kansas city and cut power to some 80,000 households. now the winter storm is affecting the northeastern quadrant of the u.s. with xwloeg snow and heavy coastal rain. the eastern great lakes region, you're going to be seeing the heavier snow with up to 50 centimeter likely in the next 24 hours. eastern canada and the new england states will be in the path of the storm on wednesday. now, the associate front is producing heavy rain and the risk of severe weather across the southeast coast throughout tuesday. and across australia we've been monitoring a tropical cyclone. rusty has been with us for days. it has produced more than 500 millimeters of rain for the coastal areas. destructive waves and storm surges. here's the projected path.
it looks like it's going to move into the coast between port hedland to pardew by this afternoon as a category 4 and then head to the south over land. as it does, though, it should weaken and speed up. as i mentioned, it's now a category 4, gusting 230 kilometers per hour. in such a wind speed structure damage are highly likely. caravans could be destroyed. and widesead power failures are also likely. in terms of precipitation, because it has been moving very slowly, rainfall total could be quite staggering amounts. you're seeing an additional 200 millimeters or more for a wide area and upwards of 300 millimeters for inland locations. so flooding is going to be a big risk for the next several days across western australia. now, in japan we can see cloud mass covering much of the southern half of the country. underneath it rain and inland snow. the heaviest rain is falling in kagoshima prefecture. but 130 millimeters has been
observed over the past 24 hours. but this one is a quick mover. so precipitation should be gone by this afternoon. and as the system passes through, a significant warm-up is in store. which is not good news for people in northern japan because melting snow could cause avalanches. but certainly good news for the rest of japan. tokyo at 10 degrees today but warming up to 14 degrees on thursday and shooting up to 16 on friday. very warm in kagoshima. 20 degrees today and stayingn the warmer side as we head into friday. so spring-like conditions are in store for us. all right. that's it for now. and here's your extended forecast. ♪ ♪